One of the nice things about Netflix is the extent of their DVD movie library. If the movie is on DVD, you are nearly assured of being able to get it. Consequently, a treasure trove of independent and classic films is available.
Yesterday we saw a recent “indie” Starting Out in the Evening. The Wikipedia entry provides a good summary of the film and references for further reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starting_Out_in_the_Evening
It is about a forgotten writer in his twilight years, brilliantly played by Frank Langella, and a young graduate student who seeks him out to write her graduate thesis on him. It is also about the writer’s daughter and her lover. During the film, the characters are changed by one another.
It is also about the passing of time, the ravages of aging, and the substitution of contemporary culture for a more contemplative one of an earlier era. Self help and celebrity books now dominate the best seller lists while serious literature and criticism and the writers of the same are slowly disappearing. At one point the writer played by Langella offers the young student some works by Lionel Trilling and Edmund Wilson to read, only to find she has forgetfully left them behind. He sadly returns them to his bookshelf.
But, the main point of this entry is to praise the young director of the movie, Andrew Wagner, and his sensitive and profound narration that can be enjoyed with the movie. It is well worth running the entire move again with the director’s narration to fully appreciate the stunning achievement of the director and the four main actors in transforming this adaptation of a novel by Brian Morton to film in only eighteen days and on a budget of only $500k.
I am looking forward to future Andrew Wagner productions. Long live the independent film!